Published: June 8, 2022
The Australian Federal court found Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc, guilty of consciously keeping two videos attacking John Barilaro, the former deputy-premier from New South Wales, available on YouTube and making money off them.
The videos in question have accumulated around 800,000 views since they were posted and are said to have influenced the politician’s decision to leave politics. Because of that, Google now faces a $515,000 fine (A$715,000), as ordered by the court.
The officials at Google openly denied the defamatory accusations on the grounds of the original poster’s entitlement to an honest opinion and the right to publicly criticize a politician as they see fit.
The bigger issue at hand raises the question of how big is the role tech companies play in defaming someone, especially a public figure when their users post defamatory content.
Australia is one of the few Western nations with laws that put an equal share of legal accountability on online platforms as they do on the users uploading content on them.
These laws make the operation of global companies in Australia significantly more challenging, resulting in those companies stepping back from practicing their usual, full social media presence strategies in the country.
Google’s current issue, alongside other similar cases, further sparks up the discussion about whether there are some fundamental changes to be made in the country’s principles of publication in defamation law at some point in the future.
Google remains the most popular search engine with a staggering 91.86% in market share.